STEPS TO SUCCESSFUL TEFILAH THROUGH WEEKLY FOCUS PROGRAM

  1. Read, listen, or watch the
    new segment of the week
  2. Review and internalize the new segment each time you say it this week
  3. Continue the focus from previous weeks
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Introduction

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Introduction

The Chovos HaL’vavos sums up tefilah with just a few words: כוונתנו בתפילה אינה כי אם כלות הנפש אל האלוקים וכניעתה לפניו

Our intent in tefilah is essentially nothing but longing for Hashem & humbling ourselves before Him, recognizing that we are totally dependent upon Him.

The following two paragraphs are mostly excerpts from Rabbi Warren Goldstein, the Chief Rabbi of South Africa:

The key to successful tefilah is that it must come from the heart; it has to be sincere, not just going through the motions and the externalities, having a siddur open in front of us though our minds and hearts are in many different places. It means having a spiritual and emotional connection to Hashem.

Real prayer should have the power to uplift and transform us. We daven three times a day, Shacharis, Minchah, and Maariv; at each stage in the day we have the opportunity to step out of life and connect with Hashem. This is why, when we step into the Amidah prayer, we take three steps back and then three steps forward: Symbolically, we are taking three steps back out of our lives, and then three steps forward into the presence of Hashem. These moments give us the opportunity to have the clarity, peace, and tranquility that come with knowing that G-d is in charge and, no matter what happens in the end, He is a loving father and we can connect with Him.

There are two aspects to kavanah (concentration or intent) in tefilah. One is recognizing and internalizing that we are standing before the King of Kings (דע לפני מי אתה עומד –Know before Whom you stand). This is the most crucial aspect of tefilah. The Rambam defines “kavanah” as clearing our minds and visualizing ourselves standing before the Sh’chinah. He says that one should therefore sit “a little” before tefilah so that he can direct his heart. Rabbeinu Yonah says the same, but adds that one should enter the shul and not even speak until he sits “a little” and thinks about before Whom he is sitting and Who is listening to his words. Rav Shlomo Wolbe defines “a little” as just one minute. He says that if one will spend just one minute like this before his tefilah, he will see wonders as to how this one minute is able to inspire and positively influence his entire tefilah.

The second aspect is focusing on the meaning and messages of the words themselves. Our goal will be to present meanings and messages based on sources that will assist us in attaining the goal of tefilah as presented above by the Chovos HaL’vavos.

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